Murder victim's mother sides with Bee's new position

Essays by Kathi McShane, Kent Scheidegger, Ron Briggs and Rod Pacheco

"At the end of the day, the pivotal issue of the California death penalty debate is not whether it is right or necessary for a state to kill convicted felons."

Each workday at The Bee, members of the editorial board gather and decide what editorials we will pursue for the next day's page or the pages to come. Often, in deliberating on topics we haven't commented upon for a while, we ask ourselves this question:

On the November ballot, California voters will be presented with Proposition 34, which would end the state's death penalty and instead require mandatory life sentences, without parole, for condemned inmates.

California never will emulate Texas' system of capital punishment. Nor should Californians want to.

Ever since California added the death penalty to its penal code in the 1870s, supporters have argued that the threat of executions would make potential murderers think twice before committing heinous crimes.

A bedrock principle of our legal system is that justice is applied equally. No matter who you are or where you live, you're the same in the eyes of the law.

For most of its 162 years as a state, California has had laws on the books authorizing the death penalty. And for nearly all of its 155 years as a newspaper, The Bee has lent its support to those laws and use of capital punishment to deter violence and punish those convicted of the most horrible of crimes. That changes today.

On the mild Monday afternoon of Sept. 23, 1912, readers of The Sacramento Bee picked up their newspapers to find a rhetorical question on Page 6. The question, posed as the headline above a piece written by the paper's editor and co-owner, was this: "Why not give hanging a fair show in California?"

"Some of the advocates of the abolition of capital punishment declare hanging has not checked murders in California. Hanging has not been given a fair trial in this state."

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